Working Paper 9: Maize yield response to nitrogen in Malawi’s smallholder production systems

This working paper reviews the research evidence on the factors known to be affecting the efficiency with which Malawian farmers use nitrogen fertilizer on maize. It is our position that such factors, along with non-random aspects of most trials, might explain the large gaps observed between researcher-managed plots and farmer-managed fields. In addition, the paper provides practical guidance to Malawian policy makers and the national extension system for helping farmers to raise the efficiency with which they use fertilizer. In so doing, we emphasize that crop diversification and soil management practices that raise soil fertility, while often viewed as “alternative” forms of agriculture, may be more accurately characterized as major components of an input-intensive and efficient production system that is both profitable and sustainable.

By Sieg Snapp, T.S. Jayne, Wezi Mhango, Todd Benson, and Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, 2014

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